Germany: Refugees Can Help Minimize Skills Shortage, Employment Agency Says

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By Andrea Barbara Schuessler

Oct. 9—The expected influx of 800,000 refugees by the end of 2015 can help minimize Germany's long-term skills shortage, Wolfgang Braun, a spokesman for the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of Germany's Federal Employment Agency in Nuremburg, told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview.

Considering the low average age of the refugees coming into Germany—55 percent are under 25 years old—there is significant employment potential that can be nurtured by government investment in education and training, according to Refugees and Other Immigrants in the German Labor Market: The Situation in September 2015, an IAB report issued Oct. 6.

The majority of refugees do not have professional training or a college education, Braun said, so they are more likely to become Germany's skilled workers of “the day after tomorrow rather than tomorrow.”

Rules for Integration

By law, asylum seekers are not allowed to work during their first three months in Germany, Juergen Wursthorn, spokesman with Germany's Federal Employment Agency, told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview. After their third month of residence, asylum seekers and refugees can request an employment permit, although they can be hired only into positions for which no suitable German or European Union candidates can be found.

Positions in apprenticeships or long-term training programs, however, are open to any German resident, including immigrants, without restriction, Wursthorn said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved legislation Sept. 29 that includes stricter asylum rules, faster asylum procedures, the classification of certain nations as “safe” countries of origin (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro) and significantly higher federal financial assistance for states dealing with the immigration influx. Parliamentary approval later this month is expected to allow implementation of the legislation Nov. 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Barbara Schuessler in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

The IAB report is available at, a brochure for employers on employment regulations governing refugees at and the chancellor's proposed legislation at;jsessionid=952D47026E03DE657F4DC228E5566801.2_cid287?__blob=publicationFile, all in German.

For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.